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Slick’s Nit-Picks: Lucy

There is the old saying that knowledge is power; another says that absolute power corrupts absolutely. That would lead one to wonder if absolute knowledge, in essence omnipotence, would also corrupt a person. One could suggest that it depends upon who has this power and how they choose to use it. Another idea would be that once a certain level of knowledge and understanding is obtained that petty thoughts like greed and malice disappear. If that were true then absolute knowledge would not corrupt one’s mind in heart; it would instead free them from the wants and desires of man. A person would not need to steal if they had the knowledge to legitimately make money on their own terms whenever they wanted to. Things like stress, fear and hatred are all a result of not knowing and not understanding the world around you. Director Luc Besson presents us with a film that wants you to question all of these things in  an attempt to truly see just how deep the rabbit hole is.

OMNI Horrible things happen to good people every day just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. From almost the moment we are introduced to Lucy, we see her trembling and crying for roughly the next ten minutes for this reason. She is thrown into a world she probably knew existed but never though she would witness first hand and I would not blame anyone for behaving in the same manner or worse. To make that a bit more clear, her (foolish) involvement with a dude gets her kidnapped by a Korean drug cartel and they turn her into a drug mule, placing about a kilo of a blue crystalline substance in her abdomen. For reference, the head of the cartel is named Mr. Jang. One of Jang’s flunkies does what every red-blooded American man wants to do to Scarlet Johansson: he gropes the hell out of her but then goes WWE on her when she refuses his advances. The bag breaks and Lucy stops crying. Her cranial capacity begins expanding exponentially as does Lucy’s ability absorb knowledge. A brief conversation with Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) sets her off on her journey to make sure that all she is learning is not lost.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE Scarlet Johansson is this entire movie, and that is a bold statement in a movie that features Morgan Freeman. From the argument with her very poorly chosen boyfriend to her initial conversation with Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi), all the way to the final university scene, you cannot take your eyes off of her. I do not mean this in the obvious way that guys stare at an attractive woman; her performance evolves throughout the film in a way that has to be watched. She goes from a trembling mess to an unnerving calm  that would make her Black Widow character cringe. I was a little upset at the role Morgan Freeman was given. Professor Norman is supposed to be this world-renowned researcher on the human brain, yet some of his lines just sound silly. Regardless, it’s Morgan Freeman and his presence cannot be denied. The Professor is about the only individual that Lucy trusts and respects yet their interactions just seem slightly forced. The reason could be that by the time they come face to face, Lucy’s facial expressions and dialogue resemble that of Lieutenant Commander Data in early Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. Using a sex symbol in a role that is anything but sexy is a bold move by Besson, but that was part of the point. Lucy is meant to be an average party girl whose life gets destroyed. This is just something that happens in real life. The extraordinary result of which is coincidence and Johansson pulls it off quite well I would say. Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked) quite literally just along for the ride and his presence in the film was just barely necessary. I hate to say that because I liked his character, especially since he was about the only person other than the Professor that really got how powerless he was compared to Lucy. This movie is not winning any best actor or actress awards, but that does not mean that the performances are not enjoyable. This is very much a sit back and relax type of film and if you can do that, you will have a good time.

IT’S FULL OF STARS Holy green screen, Batman, there is a whole lot of symbolism in this movie and most of it is done with digital imagery. As movies go these days, Lucy does not have a lot of special effects, but the little it has were done well. The opening of the film has a lot of stock footage use, but that mostly stops by the time Lucy “awakens.” The effects used are very eye-pleasing as people will feel like they are watching the original Matrix film. Lucy’s abilities range from police evasion in the style of Watch Dogs to body morphing that made me want to shout “AKIRA!” in the middle of the theater. It all looks natural on screen; as natural as completely unbelievable events can look, anyway. The exception is the final scene, which I will elaborate on in a moment. I preferred the more simple visual effects used at the beginning to the ones at the end. The symbolism of a cheetah bearing down on its prey as Korean thugs abduct Lucy really sold the scene for me. It is good that they did not continue with the visual animal references throughout the movie though. The visuals at the end however left me in a weird place; without spoiling, the final scene has a ton of CGI that makes sense in terms of where the story is going, but it really feels rushed. Lucy spends the entire time in an office chair, supposedly traveling to different places and periods in time. Instead of giving off that feeling, the scene makes her out to be in some weird VR room and I felt that it hurt the overall product. I would really have to think on it to say how I would change things, but I would have preferred that the final scenes were handled differently.

SOUNDS ARE MUSIC The musical score of Lucy goes a long way to help create the story’s atmosphere. As you see the character grow the music is there to sink you that much deeper into the story. Besson chose Eric Serra to compose for the film which comes as no surprise as they have been working together on films for over thirty years. That relationship has really paid off as Serra’s music simply fits Lucy in every way. As I have said, Lucy becomes more and more robotic as the movie progresses and she struggles to retain her humanity. The music helped add ”character” to someone that was steadily losing it, thus enhancing the role. When this movie hits home video (likely to happen before 2014’s end), you will love your home theater setup.

Lucy is an “eye of the beholder” type of film. Honestly, all films are, but this is really one of those see it for yourself type of films. Usually, most people will either love or hate a film but with this one, people are falling to either side of the fence. Even as I left the theater today, you have people like myself that really enjoyed Lucy and some that said it was horrible. To be fair, I can understand both points of view. I read another review where the writer tore the story apart from top to bottom. The drug that made Lucy figuratively and literally open her mind was first tested on a meth addict by Jang. The junkie snorted like two or three crystals and became a giggling idiot. Half a bag turned Lucy into a mental monster, allowing her to quickly become the most intelligent being in Earth’s existence. You could completely throw out the premise of the movie; however you have to also consider that Jang shot the meth addict in the head a few moments after he started giggling. We will never know what he was laughing at or if the drug had a similar effect on him. You also have to consider that he was a meth addict and that stuff does horrible things to the brain. You may have to be relatively “clean” for CPH4 to work properly, this is a subjective point in the movie. We then take a look at Lucy’s abilities which aside from her increased cognitive abilities are all pretty ridiculous. They are ridiculous because of what we perceive as reality and that is what Besson was getting at. A good science fiction movie is about what-ifs. It starts with a concept that is within our realm of reality and takes off from there. If it makes you think about the possibilities within the story then it achieved its goal. I think that Lucy does just this and so I say that it is worth seeing. I would go see this movie again and when it does come out on blu-ray, I will most definitely purchase it. If you choose to watch this movie, I suggest that you do so with an open mind, no pun intended.